It It was a memorable Sunday (September 6). An unexpected union, rather fusion, of old and new bloods that nourished Hindustan Times to grow from strength to strength! I felt elated in the company my ‘boys’ and ‘girls, almost all of them are now proud parents of grown-up children. In office also they have grown in stature. Matthew occupying the Editor’s chair with AKM in tow. Arun, then a cub reporter and sub-editor, now heads the reporting army as Special Correspondent. Entire editorial members are here. Matthew told me they are 14. In our days the population was 40 plus. Almost a decade has gone by when we worked together to produce brilliant editions. It was a transitory period; new technology was creeping in, bidding adieu to good old semi-automation.

Hindustan Time Reunion

Hats off to the innovative brains, that turned a farewell party into a ‘fusion’ of retired and in-service colleagues. Ashokji, whom I considered my younger brother, had called it a day after a long, long stint. The rituals of giving ‘parting’ or ‘welcoming’ gifts are gone through. By whispers, some of the colleagues are closeted in a side room for quick ‘booze’. An enthusiast, whom I met for the first time, hesitatingly came to me and whispered in my ears if I would love a (hard) drink. I could not oblige him as I am a teetotaller. Left in the hall were mainly girls. Some young men and a few we elderly were also there. The innovative brains thought of playing ‘Antakshari’, based on films songs. Ashokji’s wife and Reena sang the opening song.

And this opened up a new world of songs, musical contraptions and laughter. As gentle showers drummed merrily on the deep green leaves of tall or bushy trees outside, songs poured in torrents inside. Here too was the fusion of old melodious-poetic lyrics and pop songs. Without sex discrimination boys and girls formed rival groups. However, women conglomeration is a natural corollary. Rajiv lent both male and female voices. Some oldies played ‘chilchod’ (becoming common occasionally), to borrow a Bhojpuri colloquial.

Hindustan Times Reunion

Since such people were sitting in the team where woman population was decisive, there were mild protests. Little did I know that Sushmita and Poonam are such good singers? About Reena I knew she has had classical background. For me Anirban is a hidden treasure. He sang so well. Neither Arun nor ‘calm and composed’ Ramashanker lagged behind. Dhawale, who was ‘pulled up’ for not bringing Arati, too could not remain aloof. Matthew, AKM (in my days Ashok Kumar Mishra was AKM 1), ever green Amalendu and Ashokji too joined the singing bouts. The two-round singing ended in one-one draw. Both the pre and post lunch sessions closed with a ‘dhamaal’ and dancing. The words of one line song were not decipherable to many but every one enjoyed it to one’s heart content. It was, I learnt, penned by Rana in Hindi ‘Bhoot ke bhaat naahi, muaa mange puaa, puaa. Maalpuaa’. A bird whispered in my ears that it was satire on the set-up.

Most poignant moment that touched my heart was when two or three colleagues told me: “sir, it (the innovative gift) is a Guru Dakchhina”. The Teacher’s day was observed a day earlier. It was a very, very nice day for me. It shall remain etched in my memory for ever.   P. N. Pandey. Sept.07, 2009.

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